MICF: Andy Balloch - My Comedy Festival Show | Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett
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MICF: Andy Balloch - My Comedy Festival Show

Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

I’ll wager Andy Balloch saw Hannah Gadsby’s multi-award-winning show Nanette last year, in which she frequently dropped the comedy to make a deeply sincere and personal point.

For half of his hour is similarly heartfelt soul-baring, covering his insecurities about not fitting in and the masks he wears to hide that lack of confidence. ‘This is not a comedy show,’ each section ends earnestly

But of course this  *is* a comedy show, and it slightly feels like cheating to abandon any ambition to get laughs and instead lay on the pathos in a way that’s nowhere near as organic as Gadsby achieved.

The most skilled comedians can convey their innermost feelings through their comedy, perhaps occasionally dipping into the profound to heighten the effect. But here the dramatic sections are so clearly signposted it could be seen as cynical, were Balloch not such a sympathetic performer.

There’s no attempt to integrate these sections into the comedy half, which is presented as a fast-paced series of ‘scenes that didn’t make it into the show’. These demonstrate Balloch’s talents as a skilled and versatile character comic with a malleable physicality,  able to turn his personalities on a cent.

Recurring ideas sometimes fall into the trap of making pretty much the same joke as before, but speed keeps things ticking along. His useless magician Rich Holiday is a character portrait of pathetic desperation, while an ancient hopeful thespian brings a spirit of optimism to auditions for which he’s entirely ill-suited. 

It’s not hard to draw links between some of these traits and the themes of Balloch’s sober monologues, but generally the two discrete parts of the show are kept deliberately separate, the serious sections an unsubtle emotional ballast for the enjoyably frivolous sketches.

Review date: 2 Apr 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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